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Thomas Davies, Andrew Cruickshank, and Dave Collins

Recent retrospective research has identified effective meso-level thoughts and behaviors for high level golfers (i.e., those deployed between shots and holes). However, how such thoughts and behaviors are actually used during this phase of performance and, or if, they vary in different contexts is unknown. Accordingly, real-time observations followed by stimulated recall interviews were used to examine the meso-level processes used by high-level golfers during competition. Results indicated use of the same pre2- and post-shot routines identified in prior retrospective research but with key differences in the content and application of some of their stages relative to shot outcome. These similarities and differences are discussed along with implications for practitioners: including the importance of developing metacognitive skills, and prioritizing the development of performance expertise over performance competencies for high-level golfers at the meso-level of performance.

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Thomas Davies, Dave Collins, and Andrew Cruickshank

Despite substantial research in golf on preshot routines, our understanding of what elite golfers are or potentially should be focusing on beyond this phase of performance is limited. Accordingly, interviews were conducted with elite-level golfers and support practitioners to explore what golfers are and should be attending to before competition and between shots and holes. Results pointed to a number of important and novel processes for use at macro (i.e., precompetition) and meso (i.e., between shots and holes) levels, including the role of shared mental models across team members.

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Jamie Taylor, Dave Collins, and Andrew Cruickshank

Feedback from coaches and other stakeholders is well established as having a significant impact on the development of performance. This study investigated perceptions of the feedback process and the sense-making of athletes transitioning to elite sport. Specifically, the aims were to (a) investigate the number of feedback providers young players reported through their talent development journey, (b) understand the degree of coherence that players perceived from this feedback, and (c) explore the sense-making process of individual players by understanding their decision criteria. The findings suggest that pathway athletes were offered an excess of feedback from multiple sources, often incoherently. Yet, players lacked an appropriate sense-making process to appreciate, critically reflect on, and apply feedback. Given the implications for talent development, we offer suggestions for the coach and system to optimize feedback processes and develop gourmet consumers.

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Steven Orr, Andrew Cruickshank, and Howie J. Carson

While debate continues on “optimal” attentional focus, little empirical knowledge exists on the way that attention is operationalized across training and performance in elite golf. Accordingly, this study aimed to (a) explore the attentional foci promoted or used by coaches and players for different types of shots in training, plus their underpinning rationale and (b) explore the attentional foci promoted or used by coaches and players in competition, plus their underpinning rationale. Our findings revealed that (a) various foci were used across training and competition; (b) all players used different combinations of foci across training and competition, and within different aspects of training itself (e.g., short vs. long game); and (c) players often used alternative or additional foci in training to those promoted by coaches, and self-generated foci for competition. These results highlight the complexity and practical reality that needs to underpin future advances in theory, research, and practice.

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Steven Orr, Howie J. Carson, and Andrew Cruickshank

Long-term training is a common approach within the applied setting for components of physiology and strength and conditioning, for example. However, less is known about the reality of training across similar timescales from a technical perspective. Taking the highly technical sport of golf, current research rarely considers coaching technique beyond a single session or with the aim to understand the reality for, or challenges faced by, coaches working at the elite level. Accordingly, this qualitative study explored the goals, structure, and methods of coaches’ long-term technical work with players at macro-, meso-, and microlevels. Findings revealed that (a) coaches attempted to undertake technical refinement with players but without a clear systematic process, (b) there is little coherence and consistency across the levels of work, (c) the process and timescales of technical work are considered unpredictable and uncertain, and (d) long-term planning is seen as subservient to meeting players’ immediate performance needs. These results highlight the complexity of long-term technical work at the elite level and the need for coaches to develop both a sound and clear rationale through a more comprehensive case conceptualisation process, as well as a greater alignment to the scientific literature, to advance future practice.

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Andrew Cruickshank, Dave Collins, and Sue Minten

Stimulated by growing interest in the organizational and performance leadership components of Olympic success, sport psychology researchers have identified performance director–led culture change as a process of particular theoretical and applied significance. To build on initial work in this area and develop practically meaningful understanding, a pragmatic research philosophy and grounded theory methodology were engaged to uncover culture change best practice from the perspective of newly appointed performance directors. Delivered in complex and contested settings, results revealed that the optimal change process consisted of an initial evaluation, planning, and impact phase adjoined to the immediate and enduring management of a multidirectional perception- and power-based social system. As the first inquiry of its kind, these findings provide a foundation for the continued theoretical development of culture change in Olympic sport performance teams and a first model on which applied practice can be based.